There have been a series of protest actions over the last period against the school 'reform' policies of New York governor Cuomo. The Governor is consistently promoting policies which shutter and run down public schools, while funding new charter schools. An important article in US journal the Nation explains how nine billionaires are remaking education in New York, without spending any more money. According to Cuomo: 'Don’t tell me that if we only had more money [for education], it would change. We have been putting more money into this system every year for a decade and it hasn’t changed and 250,000 [failing children] will condemn the failing schools by this system'

Protesters say that Cuomo's budget, which will be passed next week is starving public schools, and increasing privatisaion, in line with his avowed aim to 'break public schools.' Moreover he is attacking the teachers union and teacher tenure and salary by making 50% of such decisions dependent on satandardised test scores. So where do the billionaires come in? They both save a huge amount in taxes by cutting the education budget and get to decide what kind of education low income children need, while of course sending their own children to elite private schools. Billionaires from Bill Gates to Mark Zuckerberg imagine that they know best about education and indeed everything else and can sort out everyone's lives without any resort to troublesome democratic process. As another great article puts it: 

There are The Right Sort of People and The Wrong Sort of People. The Betters are successful and wise, and this is evident in their success and wealth and innate superior character. They should run things. The Wrong Sort of People need accountability to keep them in line, to guide them to do the correct thing (you will note that we never call for accountability for the Betters-- they don't need it, and their success proves they don't need it)

However the billionaire education reformers and the governor are not having it all their own way. Continuous protests and campaigning by teachers and parents are having an effect. Most recently parents, teachers and students in the Auburn school district marched to a public school which has been closed down to protest inequitable funding, attacks on teachers and the closure of public schools.  Also on Thursday protesters flocked into the Capitol building and today protests took place outside Cuomo's office This continuing campaigning is beginning to expose the claims of billionaires like Whitney Tilson, who claims that the aim of reform is to address a situation where 'the colour of your skin and your zip code pretty much determine the qulity of public school a kid gets.'

63% of New York voters now disapprove of Cuomo's education policies, with 71% disapproving of the link between pay and test scores and his approval ratings are at an all time low - an important example of the potential power of parents, teachers and students fighting together for public education.